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The Ongoing Administration-Wide Response to the Deepwater BP Oil Spill


Secretary Salazar Gulf Coast Visit

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar surveyed ongoing response efforts to combat the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, inspecting the four-story cofferdam that will attempt to capture the largest leak from the damaged wellhead; making an aerial survey of containment and cleanup efforts underway on Gulf waters; and visiting national wildlife refuges on the Louisiana and Alabama coast to assess on-the-ground efforts to protect sensitive areas.

Successful Controlled Burn

Favorable weather conditions allowed responders to conduct a successful controlled burn operation. As part of a coordinated response that combines tactics deployed above water, below water, offshore, and close to coastal areas, controlled burns efficiently remove oil from the open water in an effort to protect shoreline and wildlife. 

NASA Satellite Assets

At NOAA’s request, NASA has agreed to use their ER-2 aircraft, equipped with a highly specialized scanner (the Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) system) to provide NOAA high resolution images of the threatened Gulf shoreline. This will assist valuable NOAA’s damage assessment activities by forecasting spill trajectories and conducting mass balance calculations. Additionally, NASA has employed satellite instruments both to detect the extent of the entire oil spill, and to see the details of the extent of selected areas of the spill.

Additional Staging Location

A 10th staging location was established in Panama City, Fla., joining nine others in Biloxi, Miss., Pensacola, Fla., Pascagoula, Miss., Dauphin Island, Ala., Port Sulphur, La., Shell Beach, La., Slidell, La., Port Fourchon, La., and Venice, La.

Aerial Dispersant Spray Missions

Modular Aerial Spray System (MASS) aircraft flew four missions—dispensing the same dispersant chemical being used by BP and the federal responders. These systems are capable of covering up to 250 acres per flight.

Seafood Inspection

NOAA Fisheries continues to collect seafood samples and transfer those to the National Seafood Inspection Lab.

NOAA Ocean and Marsh Imaging Flights

Two NOAA turbo-prop aircraft are positioned in Mobile, Ala. One will fly marine mammal survey missions—the second aircraft will conduct ocean imaging missions, providing valuable information about the oil thickness and density on the sea surface. A third NOAA aircraft is positioned in New Orleans and staged to conduct aerial photographic flights of marsh areas.

Ocean Exploration Mission

A NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research-sponsored mission is en route to collect seafloor and water column data from areas near the oil spill source.

National Park Service Response Website

The National Park Service created an oil spill response website, available at, to update the public about potential park closures, resources at risk, and NPS actions to protect vital park space and wildlife.

By the Numbers to Date:

  • Personnel were quickly deployed and approximately 7,900 are currently responding to protect the shoreline and wildlife.
  • Nearly 200 vessels are responding on site, including skimmers, tugs, barges, and recovery vessels to assist in containment and cleanup efforts—in addition to dozens of aircraft, remotely operated vehicles, and multiple mobile offshore drilling units.
  • Approximately 564,000 of feet of boom (regular and sorbent) have been deployed to contain the spill—and 1.6 million feet are available.
  • More than 1.2 million gallons of an oil-water mix have been recovered.
  • More than 190,000 gallons of dispersant have been deployed. More than 55,000 gallons are available.
  • Nine staging areas have been set up to protect vital shoreline in all potentially affected Gulf Coast states (Biloxi, Miss., Pensacola, Fla., Pascagoula, Miss., Dauphin Island, Ala., Port Sulphur, La., Shell Beach, La., Slidell, La., Port Fourchon, La., Venice, La.).